Nearly ten years since his retirement from international cricket, former India captain Sourav Ganguly looked back at his controversial selection fiasco during the Greg Chappell era, saying he wasn’t sure why he was snubbed from the side. The ugly spat between the coach and Ganguly emerged in 2005 after the latter went public stating that the Australian had asked him to step down from captaincy.
In his book authored by cricket historian Boria Majumdar that will be launched during the Indian Premier League, Ganguly has given a detailed account of his bitter relationship with the former India coach.
"Greg came to me one evening and showed me a team he had picked for the Test match. Some key players were not in his playing XI and I was a little taken aback at what he was trying to do," Ganguly was quoted by PTI as saying.
When Chappell was appointed as India’s chief coach in July 2005, Ganguly was serving a six-match ban imposed on him by the ICC for slow over rate. India’s vice-captain Rahul Dravid was leading the team in the tour of Zimbabwe in September 2005.
However, later in the year, Ganguly was removed as a skipper permanently. In February 2006, when the squad for the home series against England was named, the Prince of Kolkata didn’t find a place in the team either.
"Something from the very start of the tour was not right. I don't know what had happened but something definitely had gone amiss.
"I think some people who Greg had become close to may have told him that with me around, he would never have his way in Indian cricket and that may have triggered a reaction.
"Whatever it may have been, he was not the same Chappell in Zimbabwe compared to the one who had helped me get ready for the Australian tour in December 2003," Ganguly further quoted concerning his tumultuous relationship with Chappell.
Dada also disclosed that he refused the ideas given by Chappell.
"I rejected his suggestions and said to him clearly that the people he wanted out had done great things for Indian cricket while he had just been there for three months. He needed to spend more time to fully understand the situation before he started taking tough calls. He, it was clear to me, was in a hurry to make the team 'Greg Chappell's team'," Ganguly pointed out.
"Greg wasn't around in the dressing room when I had retired hurt and it was only after a while that he came back to ask what had happened to me. I said I had a painful elbow and with a Test match coming up did not want to risk playing on. He was unrelenting."
"To my surprise, he insisted I go out and bat and I was forced to tell him I wouldn't because I was in good touch and did not want to jeopardise my chances of playing the Test match. I even said that the pain notwithstanding, I was sure to turn up for the Test," he further elaborated.
Ganguly also gives a detailed account of the event when Chappell literally shouted at him and termed him as lazy.
"I called Greg to ask why I had not been picked and was told I had to first prove my fitness and only then could I make a comeback to the team. He said I had missed the Challenger Series and he was not clear if I was fully fit.
“It was surprising because the Challenger had never been looked upon as a selection trial. I had scored more ODI runs than anyone in the team in the last few years and it was a shock to see my name not in the team. It was the first time I felt Greg was trying to end my career," concluded Ganguly.